HC Deb 09 July 1959 vol 608 cc1547-9
23. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider taking powers to require the joint stock banks to transfer to the Treasury all balances of accounts in which no transactions have taken place for twenty years, subject to repayment of any claim if made later the Government are in a position to reduce taxation they will equitably distribute the effects amongst the whole of the population, including the lower income groups as well as the higher income groups?

Mr. Simon

The substantial reductions in taxation which the Government have effected have been distributed equitably. In the case of a man earning £500 a year, to which the hon. Gentleman referred, the whole of his 1951 tax bill has been remitted. One cannot do more than that.

Following is the Answer:

Mr. Erroll

I can see no need or justification for legislation on these lines.

Mr. Allaun

Should not these steadily accumulating balances, which were mostly owned by depositors long since dead, and which are being used by the banks for their own purposes, be treated as other property left by people without sons or heirs, so that the British taxpayer can benefit?

Mr. Erroll

The matter is not such a big one as possibly the hon. Gentleman imagines. The dormant balances in the clearing banks were estimated in 1949 to be under £6 million, the same as the figure for the Post Office Savings Bank. There is no reason to suppose that the figure has been substantially increased since then.